Some of this year's most powerful women in business were power players in sports as well. Here are five female chief execs who have dominated on and off the court.

By Shelley DuBois
September 20, 2012
September 20, 2012

Gail Boudreaux

Courtesy of UnitedHealth Group

Boudreaux, chief of the $103 billion benefits business, has prepped UnitedHealth for the arrival of Obamacare by adding more than 9 million members in Medicaid, Medicare, and corporate plans in the past year, including 2.9 million members of the military.


Irene Rosenfeld

Irene Rosenfeld Irene Rosenfeld was a Renaissance woman at West Tresper Clarke High in Westbury, N.Y. In addition to playing four sports, Rosenfeld -- then Irene Blecker -- sang in the choir, worked on the student newspaper, and served in the student government. She tried to continue her basketball career after high school. In fact, the strength of Cornell's basketball program played a part in her choice to go there for undergrad. Her time on the team was cut short though. Rosenfeld broke her leg during her first season. But, armed with the kind of get-up-and-go attitude that you learn on the court, she ploughed through her studies, got a degree in psychology, a master's in business administration, and a doctorate in marketing and statistics, all from Cornell.
Photograph by Tim Boyle — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Irene Rosenfeld was a Renaissance woman at West Tresper Clarke High in Westbury, N.Y. In addition to playing four sports, Rosenfeld — then Irene Blecker — sang in the choir, worked on the student newspaper, and served in the student government. She tried to continue her basketball career after high school. In fact, the strength of Cornell’s basketball program played a part in her choice to go there for undergrad. Her time on the team was cut short though. Rosenfeld broke her leg during her first season. But, armed with the kind of get-up-and-go attitude that you learn on the court, she ploughed through her studies, got a degree in psychology, a master’s in business administration, and a doctorate in marketing and statistics, all from Cornell. 


Ellen Kullman

Courtesy: DuPont

Kullman leads the largest company in Delaware, the state where she was born and raised. She’s the first female CEO of the over-200-year-old chemical company Dupont. Kullman attended high school at Tower Hill in Wilmington, where she played lacrosse and captained the basketball team. She went on to play D-3 ball at Tufts for two years before suffering knee injuries that ultimately forced her to quit. She pushed on in the academic realm at Tufts and earned a mechanical engineering degree from the university in 1978. Now, back in Delaware, all three of her children play sports. 


Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman Meg Whitman was among the first cohort of women to benefit from Title IX. In high school, she captained her swim team, played lacrosse, tennis and basketball. While at Princeton (class of '77), she played on the school's squash and lacrosse teams. "I liked team sports the best," Whitman says in her 2010 book, The Power of Many. "When I'm pulling a business team together, I still use those basketball aphorisms I learned as a young person: 'Let's pass the ball around a little before game time.' 'Do we need man-to-man or zone defense?'"
Photograph by Tony Avelar — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Meg Whitman was among the first cohort of women to benefit from Title IX. In high school, she captained her swim team, played lacrosse, tennis and basketball. While at Princeton (class of ’77), she played on the school’s squash and lacrosse teams. “I liked team sports the best,” Whitman says in her 2010 book, The Power of Many. “When I’m pulling a business team together, I still use those basketball aphorisms I learned as a young person: ‘Let’s pass the ball around a little before game time.’ ‘Do we need man-to-man or zone defense?'”


Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi Fortune's writeup from 2000: The Indian-born Nooyi is a key advisor to CEO Roger Enrico. She helped him make the right moves, like the spinoff of PepsiCo's restaurant and bottling businesses. She also pushed hard for Pepsi to buy Tropicana. It's all paying off. After several flat years, the stock is fizzing.
Indra Nooyi Fortune's writeup from 2000: The Indian-born Nooyi is a key advisor to CEO Roger Enrico. She helped him make the right moves, like the spinoff of PepsiCo's restaurant and bottling businesses. She also pushed hard for Pepsi to buy Tropicana. It's all paying off. After several flat years, the stock is fizzing.

Fortune’s writeup from 2000: The Indian-born Nooyi is a key advisor to CEO Roger Enrico. She helped him make the right moves, like the spinoff of PepsiCo’s restaurant and bottling businesses. She also pushed hard for Pepsi to buy Tropicana. It’s all paying off. After several flat years, the stock is fizzing.

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